People Of UCA: Tony Kanyinda

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Senior Tony Kanyinda was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but has called UCA home for the past three-and-a-half years.

“I love the people, the environment,” Kanyinda said. “Whenever I came [to UCA], people were really friendly.”

Kanyinda, who is majoring in business and management, hopes to complete a master’s in the U.S. after graduating in spring 2018.

He will intern at Morph Management Group, Inc. in Little Rock in summer 2018.

“My father [interested me in business and management]because he did the same thing, and when I was going to his office, I really loved what he was doing,” he said.

Kanyinda has two brothers and three sisters who live in Denver, Dallas, France and Kenya.

“We’re kind of split around the world,” he said. “Since I got [to the U.S.], I never went back home, so it’s been like four years [since I’ve seen my family together.]”

When he was 18, Kanyinda moved to the U.S. to study English for six months at Northern Illinois University in Chicago.

After the six-month program, Kanyinda’s English needed improvement before he could apply to American universities, he said.

“After the program, I wasn’t really ready because I didn’t finish all the levels,” he said. “The first time I took the [Test of English as a Foreign Language], I failed.”

Before international students can apply to American universities, they must pass the TOEFL exam.

When Kanyinda passed the exam, he applied to UCA, where he became involved with the Big Event and the Bear Essentials Food Pantry.

“I was not really confident about [speaking English], but the more you meet people, the more you get to practice,” Kanyinda said. “You know, I really started to believe in myself and that I can speak English. I didn’t have to be
ashamed anymore.”

Kanyinda, who also speaks Lingala and French, is a member of African Students Association because he wants to help promote the cultures of Africa.

“I speak French here a lot just because I have a lot of friends from my country who speak French, too,” he said. “French has difficult grammar, so I’m taking a French class right now just to get some memory about grammar.”

Kanyinda’s residential assistant during his freshman year inspired him to become a RA.

“Always my RA was checking on me, asking me how my day was,” he said. “And I said to myself, ‘That’s
something really nice. I want to do it.’”

Kanyinda was an RA at Hughes Hall in his junior year, and in his senior year, he was moved to Farris
Hall when Hughes Hall closed for renovations.

“Every day I learn when I talk to my residents,” he said. “That’s what made me interested in being an RA: to be able to talk to people, to make them feel comfortable if they have a problem. I want to be available to them. I really don’t like to see people suffer or be uncomfortable.”

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Sophia Ordaz is a freshman at UCA double majoring in English and Linguistics. She is a bookworm, a lover of 90s hip hop, a Quentin Tarantino mega-fan and a part-time barista.

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